Every year, one or more teams will be pegged as potentially positioning themselves to be so bad that it ultimately will be good. This year, the Jaguars definitely are not one of those teams.
As coach Doug Marrone explained it on Monday, if the team stinks, he’ll be fired. Ditto for G.M. Dave Caldwell. Indeed, they both almost ended up out the door after the 2019 season. It’s possible that the promise and potential of sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew last year prompted owner Shad Khan to give Marrone and Caldwell a year to show what they could do with Minshew as the Week One starter.
The latest spike in scuttlebutt regarding a potential tank job happened when the team waived running back Leonard Fournette on Monday, a move that was a long time coming. The trade that sent defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to Minnesota also isn’t evidence of tanking; Ngakoue didn’t want to play for the Jaguars, and Jacksonville got a second-round pick and another selection that could increase from a fifth-rounder to a third-rounder.
Although few have much faith in the current roster (not getting a public look in the preseason and first-rounders like cornerback C.J. Henderson and defensive end/linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson helps keep any buzz under control), the Jaguars are trying to win. More specifically, they’re trying to make chicken salad in the aftermath of three failed seasons of Tom Coughlin serving as executive V.P. of football operations.
Amazingly, few of the voices publicly dumping on the dysfunction in Jacksonville have mentioned the reality that, without Coughlin there, things could instantly improve. Ramsey wanted out after a post-game interaction with Coughlin, and things were so bad that the NFL Players Association warned players against signing with Jacksonville because of Coughlin, just days before he was fired.
It’s always good for an NFL team to enter a season with low expectations. In Jacksonville, they can’t get much lower. With Jay Gruden running an offense that may be a little more wide open when it comes to throwing the ball, Minshew could build on a solid rookie season and, when added to a defense with real potential, the Jaguars could change the “tanking” narrative, quickly.